Watch out for that 12%
Acton Institute Powerblog

Watch out for that 12%

In an interview on NBC’s Today Show with Matt Lauer, a Newsweek representative discussed the cover story for this week’s issue, “In Search of the Spiritual.” The feature is based on a Newsweek/Beliefnet poll focusing on spirituality and religious practice in America. The Newsweek guy (sorry, I didn’t catch his name) discussed the results of various questions, making passing reference to the importance for most spiritual people of viewing the “central myth” as real.

Since 85% of those polled self-identified as “Christian,” I think it’s fair to guess that the question results overall should reflect a measure of the broadly American “Christian” landscape. Among the promising results, the vast majority of those polled believe God created the universe and in an “afterlife.”

But the inane banter ensued in full force when Lauer and Newsweek guy discussed the results of a question about whether a “good person” of another faith could be saved. Nearly 80% responded affirmatively. Lauer asks if this means that “intolerance” is on a downward trend. While Newsweek guy doesn’t want to go that far, he does say that this is the “good news” of the poll, that “tolerance” is being affirmed. This is essentially the “I’m ok, you’re ok, whatever’s good for you,” po-mo (post-modern) worldview. In the word’s of the Newsweek subhead, “they don’t much care what the neighbors are doing.”

What about those who didn’t answer in the affirmative? “You might want to watch out for that 12%,” says Newsweek guy. After all, I guess they might try to [gasp!] “evangelize” you.

This Newsweek article strikes me as a particularly clear example that the “press…just doesn’t get religion.” .

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.